Flagship Program Aims to Buck Lowered Expectations

Photo: CIBER Field will host Friday night’s Colorado Cup match DU vs. Colorado State

A 4th place predicted finish – in the Summit League?

That was my reaction when I saw Jeff Hooker’s flagship program pre-season 2016-2017 ranking. Heading into last season, USA Today  selected DU as on of the top 10 places to play women’s soccer in the entire nation. Not that long ago, the Pioneers were facing CU in a packed CIBER Stadium with a first-round NCAA match on the line. And the Pioneers program had marquee players who were not only well known in the local soccer community but the nation as well – Kristen Hamilton, Taryn Hemmings, and Nicholette DiGiacomo.

The 2015-2016 season started with a historic 8-game goal scoring drought. The team rebounded a bit in conference play (4-4) but missed the Summit League playoffs for the first time in their history – finishing 4-12-1.

A powerhouse team that posted an astounding 18-2-1 record just two years earlier is now a four-pick and in the middle of the Summit League behind North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Oral Roberts.

It’s way too early to give up on Hooker’s squad this year. Starting his 25th year, he is the dean of DU coaches and has earned a sterling 152-49-17 overall record with 10 conference Coach of the Year awards. He clearly knows how to coach and win. In fact, even before DU’s recent Directors Cup run, women’s soccer was one of the sports DU could count on to deliver positive results year in and year out.

The Pioneers have two second team all-conference selections in defender Cristiana Behnken and forward Karina Fredette. Also, talented and dangerous senior midfielder Francesca Garzelloni is going to have to pick up the scoring slack. Senior goalkeeper Cassidy Rey is going to have to protect the back of the net for the Pioneers to beat preseason expectations. The team is shy on depth and will have to rely on strong individual performances to beat expectations.

This season will test both players and coaches. And goal scoring will continue to be a hurdle with needed improvement coming from returning players. DU only has three new freshmen, none of them forwards or big-time goal scorers.

Still, expect the Pioneers to exceed expectations.

Their first match of the year is Friday, August 19th against Colorado State in the Colorado Cup series.


11 thoughts on “Flagship Program Aims to Buck Lowered Expectations”

  1. Under normal circumstances, Coach Hooker could probably orchestrate a quick rebound. However, our being in the Summit League will make his job much more difficult. Men’s soccer seems to have established itself as a powerhouse. Our national schedule might be enough to keep us in the upper crust despite the Summit League. It’s a medium range concern.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What happened to the Ciber Field grass? Watching the women’s soccer game on Altitude the pitch looks worn. So much brown on the half near the tennis courts. First game of the season on Ciber and it doesn’t look good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The university had rugby games at Ciber Field this summer. It looks terrible – especially compared to past years. Hopefully, they can bring it back. They have a great grounds crew.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are a moron, Anon. Go troll somewhere else.

    Disappointing result for DU women’s soccer, losing 3-0 at home to an in-state opponent. The lack of scoring from this team is quite unnatural, what the heck is up? Another season of like 5 goals? Unacceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The lack of goalscoring from last year has continued into this year. This has to be deeply concerning to a coach who has 25 years of experience at DU, and mostly, success. I am not close enough to this program to pinpoint the cause, but clearly, it’s some combination of recruiting, injuries or chemistry, Let’s hope he can right the ship…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Having played soccer (at a level lower than D1) I have always found that goal scorers are born not made. It is going to be difficult but not impossible to install a system to score goals. This may take a season or two to recruit proven goal scorers. I have faith in Jeff Hooker. He has a solid track record to prove it. Also, they still have some time to straighten things out before conference play.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 5B West and Puck Swami–true enuff. The part that’s the most concerning is that it’s really tough to turn something like this around quickly. You can change your style of play a bit, maybe have your midfielders make more runs up front, etc. But to some extent, you either have natural goal scorers on your team, or you don’t. They apparently do not. It’s just weird how quickly the train went off the tracks, so to speak.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh, hey, did you lengthen your name, Anon? You have a low threshold for LYAO, apparently. Why don’t you troll somewhere else, fool? Or is this all that you have? “Sad!”


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